“I’m always all right,” he said with his trademark smirk and began to walk away, leaving Max to wonder if he really was all right.
“Alec,” she called after him, remembering something Embry had told her. “Em wanted me to make sure you were at Crash tonight, don’t ask me why I don’t really want to know, but that’s what she said. You’ll be there?”
Alec smiled, thinking about the girl that had been by his side for all that hell. She was his savior at the moment; the only thing that got him through what Manticore had done to him. He tried; he tired so hard to keep her from that punishment. She didn’t deserve it, it was his fault not hers. Alec looked down at Max, that smile still firmly planted on his face. “Yeah, I’ll be there,” he told her before heading out on his runs. Alec could only imagine what Embry wanted him at Crash for, he knew better that to think she wanted to talk about everything that had happened. Rachel was dead, it was over and Alec had closure. He wasn’t all right yet, but he was getting there, slowly. Embry knew he wouldn’t want to talk about it though, so why did she want him there?
The question bugged Alec for the rest of the day, while Embry, who had managed to con her way to get the day off, spent the day at Joshua’s. “Alec okay,” he asked as he sat there with his canvas. Embry walked over to Joshua and leaned against him with a smile.
“Eventually he will be,” she said softly with a sigh. “Eventually.”
“You’re frighteningly good at that, you know that,” she said with a laugh, sitting next to him. Embry was a thin girl with pale skin. Looking at her one would think she was completely harmless. No one would guess this girl with long curly brown hair was a genetically engineered soldier. “I’ll be okay too. I just,” Embry paused and sighed running her thin fingers through her hair. “I hate seeing him like this, I hate it.”
“You love him,” he asked looking away from the paining and over to Embry.
She looked up quickly, wide-eyed as if Joshua had grown a second head. “What? No, no, well, not… not like that,” she said with a sigh. Sure she had strong feelings for Alec, she always had. The man was the other half of her brain he was her best friend. Sometimes she had trouble functioning without Alec there. They were partners in crime, literally. She sighed and looked over at Joshua with a smile on her face. “Josh, Alec and I are complicated, but don’t read into it more than it is all right?” She smiled and gave him a kiss on the forehead. “I gotta get goin, I’m supposed to meet Max and Alec at Crash. Stay out of trouble Big Fella,” she said with a smile before leaving and heading over to Crash.
Logan picked her up from Joshua’s. “You sure you wanna do this Em,” he asked glancing over at the girl next to him. Embry and Logan became friends almost the instant they met. They were just that though, friends. Unlike Asha and Logan or Max and Logan there was no physical attraction there. If anything Logan was like a brother to Embry, at least that’s how she treated him. “I mean this could be seriously embarrassing.”
“Not as embarrassing as doing it in front of dozens of genetics specialists at a black tie party so that your “brother” won’t get caught making out with his assignment in the pool,” she said with a laugh, looking over at Logan with a smile on her face. “He had such a dopey look on his face afterwards,” she said with a laugh. “He was like ‘she kissed me’. It was sickeningly sweet.”
“Yeah, that does sound bad huh,” he laughed. “Oh, by the way, Em. I brought my camera just for you.”
“I hate you,” she said rolling her eyes.
“Maybe Eyes Only should do a special broad-”
“Don’t you even think about it Logan Cale! I will kick your ass so fast you won’t even know what hit you,” she said glaring at him. “Anyone brings this up, EVER, again and they die. Got it? I’m doing this for Alec.”
“Because you’ve been head over heels in love with him since age twelve?”
“What? No. Why does everyone keep saying that? Alec is my best friend, that’s all. That’d be like… like falling in love with Ben… ick. I mean no offense to Ben he obviously grew up pretty but that’s not the point. He was my breeding partner. Yes, we had sex. Hours upon hours of hot sex. But that doesn’t mean I’m in love with him. Is that what you want to hear? I mean I can go into detail about the-”
“No that’s okay,” Logan said quickly. “You said so yourself though Em, you look at pictures of Ben and you see Alec. Not like Max who looks at Alec and sees Ben. So how would it be like-”
“You can shut up now Mr. Know-it-all,” she said giving him a playful smack upside the head. Logan parked and they got out of the car. “You got it all set up?”
Logan smiled with the biggest smile he had in a long time. “Oh yeah, it’s all set up. You ready?”
Embry rolled her eyes and sighed. “Yes. He so owes me something incredibly embarrassing for this.”
“I’ll pass it along. All right, Max is gonna call when he gets there, and I’ll have it set up. Have fun.”
Embry rolled her eyes and walked in the back door while Logan walked in the front. She waited behind the bar for about twenty minutes before Logan finally smiled and everything started. “He owes me for this,” she muttered under her breath.
Alec and Max walked into Crash and almost instantly the music stopped. Alec looked to Max then looked around. The place was practically empty except for Alec, Max, Logan, Original Cindy, Sketchy and Normal who all came out for the show. “Max,” he said looking over at her with a suspicious look. As soon as he spoke the music started again. It started playing “Burnin’ For You” from Blue Oyster Cult. For Alec it brought back memories of Embry as his “sister” Sam Lehane when he was working the Berrisford case. She listened to it all the time. Alec looked up and saw Embry standing on the bar, wearing clothes she obviously stole from Max, considering she actually looked hot. She wore black leather pants and a leather jacket with her boots and her hair was pulled back. Oh God, tell me she’s not going to… she is.
He stood there for a long time just watching her dance. She was singing too but he didn’t notice. Alec just watched the way her hips swayed as Max pushed him up to the bar. He loved the way she looked when she danced. Alec looked up at her and smiled. “Burn out the day, burn out the night. I can’t see no reason to put up a fight. I’m livin’ for givin’ the devil his due, and I’m burnin’, I’m burnin’, I’m burnin’ for you.”
Alec rolled his eyes and put his hands on her hips, pulling her off the bar and taking the mic from her. “All right that’s enough there missy,” he said with a smile. After that the music stopped and went back to what was playing before and everyone else was allowed into the place. Alec stood in front of her, with his hands on the bar holding her in place between him and the bar. “What was that?”
“That was what you didn’t see or hear apparently when you had your first kiss,” she said with a teasing smile. “649, she kissed me. In… in the pool, she… she kissed me,” she said with a smile making fun of Alec. “Honestly it’s like you’ve never been kissed before,” she said with a smile, knowing that he hadn’t. “Her dad asked where she was and they went looking for you and they were heading to the pool and I started singing, in front of a bunch of well dressed genetic specialists. I sang Blue Oyster Cult for you, though I was tempted on REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling”. I think that one would have fit you two better,” she said with a smile. Embry looked up at him, her arms wrapping around his neck with a smile on her face. “But you don’t really care about that story do you? You owe me you know,” she said with a smile.
“Oh, I owe you do I,” he asked with a laugh. Usually, for their entire lives, with the exception of the breeding program, the two of them kept a certain space between them. Alec closed that space for the first time since they were separated as breeding partners. He took a step closer, his body just barely touching hers. “And what do I owe you,” he whispered in her ear.
“Something incredibly embarrassing,” she said with a smile. “I say you get your pretty little cloned ass up there and sing a power ballad baby,” she said with a smile.
“Hmm,” he said looking down into her brown eyes. “I don’t think so. That’s not what you want.” Alec smiled and leaned down, letting his lips touch her neck lightly. Chills shot down Embry’s spine. He always did that to her, even when they were forced to be together he always did that. Her other breeding partner was so impersonal about it all, Alec was never that way, at least not with Embry. Maybe that’s why they were separated. Embry smiled at the contact, letting her small fingers lace through his short hair. He leaned back and looked down at her before looking around the place. “It’s getting kinda crowded in here,” he said with a smirk.
Embry just smiled and pushed herself up so she was sitting on the bar. “Sing us a song you’re the piano man,” she said with a smile
“You’ll get your song,” he countered before pressing his lips to hers, playfully tugging at her lower lip with his teeth.
“Alec,” she said pushing him away a little. Embry looked down into his eyes and sighed. She knew exactly what he was doing. “I won’t be your escape Alec. I know it hurts, I see it in your eyes I saw it when it first happened. I watched what they did to you, they made me watch Alec! Don’t treat me like some dirty little whore you can take home with you,” she snapped before pushing him away and walking out of the building.
See in order to truly understand what goes on between Alec and Embry one must know their origins. Embry, or X5-649 was born on July 17, 1999. Her birth is not what’s important though. It was her childhood from age six until ten that really began to shape her life. It was then that she met X5-493 and 452. The three of them became very close, very quickly. 493 and 649 specifically developed a special bond. They called him Ben and 452 they called Max. It was on the night of 649’s seventh birthday that’s she finally got her name. “Ben,” she said sitting next to him on his bed with the other children around. “That was a nice story,” she said quietly. “You think we’ll ever really see what’s out there?”
“Someday,” he told her looking at her with a smile. “You need a name.” He sighed and looked at her, studying her for a few moments. “Embry.” She smiled and gave him a hug. That night they stayed up when the others had gone to bed, talking about the outside world and what it would be like out there. Embry fell asleep next him in his bed, something that had happened on several occasions. As Ben began to fall asleep someone nudged him. He opened his eyes and saw Max there. She simply pointed to Embry and he sighed. He woke her up and made sure she got back to her bed before going to sleep.
That was how Embry got her name. Things went on that way at night for the next three years. Then one night in February that all changed. Embry had been in observation for three weeks after something happened that caused the death of her clone. To this day she still wasn’t sure what happened. When she returned to her barracks that night she found that they were gone. Embry had heard rumors of an escape the night before but she didn’t know for sure. Now she did. Ben promised her he’d take her with her, he promised her he’d take her away from this place and they’d be together, grow up together the way they had been in Manticore. Now Ben was gone. He abandoned her, so did Max. She felt like crying the whole night through but she didn’t. She didn’t shed a tear. Everything after that was different for Embry. She never spoke of Max or Ben again, and she willingly stopped using her name.
Three years later she met X5-494. She was put in his unit for training maneuvers. Instantly she took up the role of second in command to 494. The two worked incredibly well together. It had been three years since she had seen Ben. When she met this 494 she didn’t see Ben, though she knew he was Ben’s twin. Over the next five years as the two kids grew up Manticore took notice of the way they worked together. It was as if they didn’t even need to speak to each other. They predicted each other’s movements. In training exercises they would put 649 and 494 against each other in a battle of wit and tactics out in the field. Each time it ended in a deadlock. It wasn’t until they were seventeen years old that they started working on undercover missions, only being separated when it was absolutely necessary. That’s when the real trouble started. Both had completed at least four solo missions and Manticore was going to send them on a long-term undercover assignment. 494’s cover was a piano instructor, Simon Lehane. They were investigating Robert Berrisford, the CEO of Mercidyne (a Manticore associate). Most of 494’s contact, and 649’s was with Berrisford’s daughter Rachel. 649’s cover was that of Simon’s younger sister, Samantha. It was 649’s idea to call her Sam. The story was that since Simon’s parents died when he was a child his blind little sister, Samantha, went with him everywhere. No one really suspected anything out of the ordinary with the girl.
The two siblings seemed to be polar opposites. Simon was serious, quiet whereas Sam was loud and outspoken often times. This was the character 649 created with Sam. “It’s just like acting 494. You remember those classes. You have to put some depth into your character or it won’t be believable.”
“I’m believable,” he countered. “You’ve heard me play.”
“That’s not what I mean. You have to have a background, layers. People have layers. Like this Samantha, for example. I’ve been working on this since we got the assignment. First off, call her Samantha and you’re pretty much dead. It’s Sam. Secondly, lets see here, she can’t see, but her brother’s a music teacher so it’s obvious that she’ll be a music fan right? But not that classical stuff, no, she’s more into the classic rock. I’ve been doing research. There’s this band, from like forty years ago or something like that, Blue Oyster Cult. I picked that as her favorite. Anyway, you’re my brother so obviously we can’t get alone,” she said with a smile.
That’s exactly how it went too. Sam would sit by the piano with her earphones in, bobbing her head to the beat of Blue Oyster Cult or whatever she had that day. It was the only thing that she kept from the Berrisford case. 649 was able to observe a lot more than 494 since she was supposed to be blind. The one thing she didn’t want to observe though is the way 494 looked at Rachel. He deserved to be happy though, that’s what she thought. So 649 kept her mouth shut. Then the day came for them to complete their mission. They were told to kill both Robert Berrisford and his daughter. When she heard her orders she knew it would be impossible for 494 to go through with it. She wasn’t about to betray him though. Everything went wrong that day. The brought her back to Manticore, screaming for 494, trying to get to him before they hurt him. It was too late though. They held her there watching as the others tormented 494. She screamed for them to stop, that they were hurting him and he didn’t deserve it. Then it was her turn.
“She didn’t know,” he pleaded. “She didn’t know, leave her out of this!” His pleas fell on deaf ears though. They were separated on the field. Both of them showed a drop in their performance on the field though. Six months after reindoctrination 649 and 494 for put back together as a team. Then the breeding program came.